Men are from Mars; Women are from Venus.

Or maybe men are from Brookstone and women are from every bloody shop in the mall, plus Amazon, eBay and barnesandnoble.com. Men seem to like giving folks useful stuff (gadgets, if you will), and women — well, I’m not sure what women like. Based on my experience, I’m not sure women know what they like, although they do tend to think they know what they want. Case in point: they marry. Us.

I’ll grant you right off the bat that this is a viewpoint seriously biased toward the male perspective or, if you prefer, the male lack of perspective. I’m good with that. Nowhere in the Blogger’s Creed does it say that I have to be unbiased, nor that I have to give the other side a fair chance to state its case.

Certainly, given the state of the national economy, it’s a really good thing that women like to shop and ponder over the exact right gift to render their victims overjoyed, speechless, envious, malleable, livid or what have you. Shopping and pondering, without question, lead to a great deal more purchasing than might otherwise be the case. Another boon to the merchant’s finest season is the tendency of the fair sex to give multiple gifts. “Well, I’d love to get that for Madeline, but it’s not quite enough; maybe I can find some little something…” That strategy inevitably leads to more buying, and the support of our wonderful country in its position of consumer for the world. Whatever would the Chinese do without us?

Men, on the other hand, tend to spend perhaps a minute and a half figuring out the perfect gift. Then they go to the store, get a dozen, and give them to everyone. While this provides for fair distribution of gifts, it probably doesn’t make everyone on the list feel special. On the other hand, half of them are women who will automatically make allowances for our “typically male” lack of social skills and subtlety, and the other half are men who understand completely, and who like gadgets themselves.

For, with the exception of the “special” gifts for the women close to them, over which they have agonized for weeks (not because they wanted to, but because they were afraid they’d screw up), it is the tendency of males to give Useful Gifts. In my own case, I tend to test drive them myself. I’ll find something that looks good to me, decide that it is absolutely irreplaceable in any well-ordered life, purchase one, and use it until I have established its worthiness. At that point, it becomes The Next Gift.

This works out well for everyone. The merchants do OK, considering the gender of the purchaser. The budget usually stays under some semblance of control. Everyone gets a road-tested and throughly approved gift (something that everyone unquestionably needs), and no one has to wonder, after the first one is opened, what they’re getting, reducing the level of anxiety tremendously. What’s not to like?

So I can’t really figure out why, year after year, I say I’ll handle the holiday shopping, and she turns me down. Why would anyone opt for all that hassle? I just don’t get it.

Mars and Venus. No doubt about it.